About The Latino Newsletter

The Latino Newsletter is a new, independent nonprofit journalism outlet founded by Julio Ricardo Varela, award-winning journalist and founder of the breakthrough digital news site Latino Rebels. It is a daily, subscriber-only offering that will publish stories and audio podcasts through a clear Latino lens.

At the start of 2024, massive layoffs at the Los Angeles Times, The Messenger and other outlets left several A-list Latino and Latina journalists with no work. As NBC News reported, this daily void is raising concerns about how our community stays informed with accurate information.

Latino political power in the United States is still elusive. It does not exist at the level we perceive it to be. Over the past few years, several outlets (Axios, NPR, The City, The Atlantic) have covered this. A 2016 New York Times opinion piece said it best: Whatever Happened to Latino Political Power? It’s time to face reality. Growing demographics have not equaled real political power and respect.

In January of 2024, Pew Research published new data about eligible Latino voters in the United States. In 2022, it also published a comprehensive data analysis of Latinos, political parties and the issues the community cares most about. The findings show an electorate that is still evolving and trying to figure itself out. They challenged several assumptions about party identification and partisanship.

The lesson from the data is clear—generalizations about the U.S. Latino community and their political leanings are shifting. We are currently in a time of flux and new possibilities. With an information void clearly happening, there is an opportunity.

The community must own and drive the narrative. We cannot let non-Latino outlets and voices be the sole “experts” of how the U.S. views us. That is already happening and will only continue. The latest 2024 presidential election coverage shows that. We need to create more lanes for our community.

All reporting and commentary must be of the highest quality. It needs to be premium. There must be diversity of voice and opinion. Our stories can be syndicated to other outlets who want to feature our community.

This is your newsroom.

Our Team

Julio Ricardo Varela, Interim Publisher/Executive Director, Board Member

Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela is an award-winning journalist and senior leader.

As President of Pulitzer-winning Futuro Media, he was responsible for the business/operations side of the organization and played a key senior leadership role in overseeing the company’s editorial vision. Previously, he was the company’s Editorial Director, leading the teams at Latino USA, Latino Rebels, the In The Thick political podcast, and the Community Podcast Lab.

As Vice President of New Business Development for Futuro Studios, he headed up the division’s new business initiatives, which have received industry accolades and have positioned Futuro as a major player in the premium audio space.

Currently, he is an MSNBC Columnist on a freelance basis.

In 2011, Varela founded Latino Rebels, a top U.S. Latino digital media site. In 2018, Latino Rebels officially joined Futuro Media. He co-hosted In The Thick for eight years, from 2015 to 2023.  He was a frequent contributor to Latino USA, and as Digital Director for Futuro from 2015 to 2020, Julio expanded the show’s digital footprint, overseeing historic gains in podcast, online and social audiences.

Before his nine years at Futuro, Julio was Digital Producer for Al Jazeera America’s “The Stream,” and his work has been featured in many global outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, ESPN, NBC News, Quartz, Le Monde, WGBH, WNYC, Face the Nation, Fusion, Univision and Telemundo. He has made numerous national TV appearances.

In 2015, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored Varela with its inaugural DALE Award, “given to an individual or company that steps up and goes above and beyond to ensure Latinos are fairly and accurately represented.” In 2018, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción named Varela one of Boston's top Latino leaders.

He was also a contributing reporter at The Boston Globe and a top publishing executive. Varela graduated cum laude from Harvard College.

Michelle Morgante Del Rio, Board Member

Michelle Morgante Del Rio is an award-winning journalist and editor, currently with ALM as regional managing editor for The Recorder and covering intellectual property issues for Law.com. Morgante began her journalism career as a reporting intern with Time Magazine and then joined The Associated Press, covering news from across the U.S. and as a foreign correspondent in Latin America, based in Mexico City.

During her years as deputy bureau chief for the AP based in Miami, Morgante led creation of the AP's Hispanic Affairs beat and represented the news cooperative before newsrooms across Florida and the Caribbean. She went on to serve as AP bureau chief for the upper Midwest, based in Minnesota.

After returning to her native California in 2016, Morgante became managing editor for the McClatchy Company's Merced Sun-Star and then deputy managing editor for National Public Radio.

She served the Institute for Nonprofit News as its member network director and launched a nonprofit community newsroom in central California.

Of Mexican and Italian heritage, Morgante earned her B.A. in political science/international relations from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas, El Paso.

Dr. William D.Lopez, Board Member

Dr. William Lopez is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Faculty Associate in the Latina/o Studies Program. He is the author of the award-winning book, Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid, and regularly contributes to the public discussion on deportation, diversity, and Latino culture in venues such as the Washington Post, CNN, San Antonio Express News, Detroit Free Press, and Truthout.

With Emmy-nominated teaching materials, Dr. Lopez has taught hundreds of students about health, well-being, and social justice.

Antonio Caban, Board Member

Antonio Caban is Associate Vice President at 90 West, a strategic communications firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. Before 90 West, Antonio served as Deputy Communications Director to the Massachusetts state Senate President and assisted in communications strategy on legislation directly impacting the Latino community, including education, climate change and mental health.

He is an Emmy award-winning producer, and veteran of public media, television and print journalism where he covered local and national politics and policy.